It’s an election year in Seattle during a bounce-back economy, and that means budget goodies all around. Mayor Mike McGinn’s $1 billion proposed general fund budget for 2014 includes no major cuts and some spending increases for new and old programs. Of course, it’s not all politics – the King County budget proposals seem equally generous despite Executive Dow Constantine all but having his November re-election race wrapped up. Among the major Seattle spending items is the hiring of 176 new city employees, including 15 new police officers to make SPD staffing the highest it’s ever been, according to McGinn.
On Thursday the City Council will hold its first of two public hearings on the budget. A majority of City Council members now back McGinn challenger Ed Murray, which could lead to some interesting posturing heading into this month’s meetings. Of course, you’ll be at Barboza Thursday night for the Capitol Hill Mayoral Forum so you’ll either want to send in comments via email — or make plans to attend another meeting slated for later in the month at Garfield:
- October 3, 5:30 p.m. (5 p.m. sign up), Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, Download the Public Hearing Agenda
- October 24, 6:00 p.m. (5 p.m. sign up), Garfield High School Commons – 400 23rd Ave Seattle, WA 98122
While the budget doesn’t really get down to the level of neighborhood earmarks, there are some line items worth noting for Capitol Hill. We’ve looked at some of the biggest shifts in spending and cuts that have potential ramifications in Capitol Hill, calculating the percent change from every 2013 adopted budget item compared to the 2014 proposed spending on those same items. The dataset is available here. Note that these percentages represent shifts in spending by category and may not reflect actual budget spending level changes for every individual program.
First, the top 10 biggest spending increases by percentage throughout the entire budget:
|Department||Program||2013 Adopted||2014 Proposed||DELTA||%|
|HSD||Employment Support Services||$60,000||$800,000||$740,000||1233.33%|
|NMF||Small Sparks Fund||$15,320||$65,673||$50,352||328.66%|
|FG||Budget System Reserve||$200,000||$700,000||$500,000||250.00%|
|DOIT||General and Administration||$8,247,798||$28,047,250||$19,799,452||240.06%|
|SPU||Water Quality & Treatment||$3,333,857||$11,279,359||$7,945,502||238.33%|
|CRS||Sidewalks & Pedestrian Facilities – REET II||$2,135,000||$6,983,000||$4,848,000||227.07%|
(The bullet points below show the department, project, proposed budget for 2014 and the percent change from last year’s adopted budget.)
- SDOT Major Projects First Hill Streetcar $14,111,000 -43.14%
- STCAR Streetcar Operations Streetcar Operations $5,736,611 +684.83%
This year’s budget includes several funding items for the new First Hill street car and planning efforts for street car expansion. Included in the proposal is a $10 million boost to the Seattle streetcar system needed planners say as the First Hill streetcar line connecting Pioneer Square to Broadway finally comes online.
That includes $1 million to push through the final designs for the Center City Connector, which will link the First Hill and South Lake Union streetcars through downtown. $275,000 has also been proposed to “support a potential furture extension” of the First Hill Streetcar to the north end of Broadway.
Department of Transportation officials will also use $200,000 to begin station area planning for a future Ballard‐to‐Downtown streetcar or light rail line.
Streets and Sidewalks
- SDOT Mobility-Capital Sidewalks & Pedestrian $18,322,436 +151.14%
- SDOT ROW Management Street Use Permitting $19,848,368 +44.53%
- SDOT Mobility-Operations Neighborhoods $3,694,977 +43.54%
- SDOT Mobility-Capital Neighborhood Enhancements $4,718,001 +39.41%
- SDOT Street Maintenance Street Repair $9,615,852 -15.81%
There are a slew of street and sidewalk improvement items included in the budget, although the proposal doesn’t break it down by neighborhood. This includes $2.5 million for new sidewalks and $500,000 for sidewalk repair city‐wide. $2.9 million is currently budgeted for improvements around the 23rd Ave. corridor, including adding a new bikeway that runs parallel to 23rd. SDOT will change the street from four lanes to three lanes between John and Rainier. Also included in SDOT budget increases are plans to implement the mayor’s Walk Bike Ride Initiative, including $4.8 million for new bikeways across the city.
- NMF Neighborhood Matching Fund Small Sparks Fund $65,673 +328.66%
- DON Community Building Historic Preservation $1,132,592 +40.89%
This year’s budget includes a big boost to the Small Sparks Fund Program, which had been cutback in recent years. The purpose of the Sparks Fund is to provide one-time awards of up to $1,000 for small community building projects initiated by grassroots organizations.
The Historic Preservation-Community Building Program also gets a half a million dollar boost to “provide technical assistance outreach, and education to the general public, owners of historic properties, government agencies, and elected officials to identify, protect, rehabilitate, and re-use historic properties.”